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Godly Leadership

1 Timothy 3:1
Here is a trustworthy saying: whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. (NIVUK)

Timothy was chosen by the Apostle Paul to train the next generation of church leaders in Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:3-7).  They were to lead the congregation but not exercise ungodly power over the church; neither should they be passive officials who could be bribed or manipulated by the congregation.  Instead, they were to watch over (oversee) and direct God’s family like a wise father should watch over his own family (1 Timothy 3:4).  The word translated here as ‘overseer’ is also used for ‘bishop’, ‘elder’ or ‘presbyter’.

Paul affirmed that it is a good thing to want to lead a church, provided it is a response to God’s call, and not a fleshly ambition.  Timothy was to appoint men whose hearts were set on that task; and the church should know that is a wonderful desire.  Every local church needs effective leadership, but it is a tough job - so nobody should be forced into the role unless they are willing (2 Corinthians 9:7).  However Paul said that the potential overseer and his passion must first be tested (1 Timothy 5:22); and in the following verses Paul gives a series of tests which are mainly about the potential leader’s character.

Godly leadership must start with a God-given desire to lead under God’s authority.  They must be people who are transparently and humbly godly and not wanting power for their own satisfaction.  ‘Pastoral ministry’ means shepherding people - by taking them from where they are, to a place they cannot see, through a process they will not always enjoy!  The story of Moses in the wilderness illustrates that onerous task very well.  No wonder God’s under-shepherds need to be convinced they are called to fulfil the task, especially when the flock resists being led according to God’s Word (2 Timothy 4:1-5).

If you are a leader (and a third of Word@Work readers are involved in pastoral or evangelistic ministry), then ask the Lord to renew your inner conviction that He has called you to serve Him in His way.  If you are not in leadership, pray for your leaders and obey their Biblical instructions (Hebrews 13:17).  If you desire to be a leader, test your own motivation, teaching and lifestyle by Paul’s teaching in this Letter to Timothy and ask your local church leaders to test your calling (1 Timothy 4:16).

Great Shepherd of Your flock. Thank You for giving an unquenchable desire to some people that they must serve as shepherds under Your direction. I am sorry when I have not made their work a joy. Please help all those who You have called to serve You in this way and give them a refreshed call in ministry so that they may serve You with greater confidence. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams